In this highly customizable world where you can tailor practically everything to your specific likes, measurements and specifications, dog owners are increasingly viewing their pet as a reflection of themselves. Big guys have big dogs. Runners have dogs who like to run. Healthy people have healthy dogs.
People choose dogs to fit into their lifestyle. It’s long been said that the term “pet owner” has been replaced by “pet parent.” And a study by Pew Research shows that 85% of dog owners think of their pet as part of the family, and 94% had a “close” relationship with their dog.
So it’s no surprise that pet parents are customizing their dogs’ diet as they would their own. In fact, it’s been my experience that people are more choosy about what goes in and on their dog than they are for themselves.
Here are some of the trends in the pet food and treat space that may (or may not) surprise you.
1. Weight Loss & Sport Nutrition Programs – 44% of American dogs are considered obese so pet food manufacturers are responding with low fat & low carb special diets with portion-control and pre-measured options available. Grain Free food continues to trend as a low carb option. And for those sporty dogs out there, leading pet food brands are endeavoring to carve out a niche by using amino acids to nourish a dog’s muscles after exercising. They claim that the food “optimizes oxygen metabolism for increased endurance.”
2. Local Sourcing – We’ve heard restaurants promoting “from farm to fork” local sourcing to ensure freshness. Now, in response to overseas manufacturers, some dog food companies are are preparing food with only local ingredients and suggesting that dogs should ‘eat locally’
3. To satisfy your inner chef, you might check out dog food that requires preparation. This new type of dehydrated and freeze-dried dog food requires that you add warm water or even cook it. Taking that trend one step further some nutritionists suggest that you should prepare joint meals for you and your dog. According to proponents not only does it save time and money to share food with your dog but it’s healthier for the animal as well. To learn more about this controversial feeding option check out the book “Dog-Gone Good Cuisine: More Healthy, Fast, and Easy Recipes for You and Your Pooch”
4. Giving Back is à la mode. Why feed just one dog when you can feed two for the same price? DOG for DOG, a pet food and treat company in Santa Monica, CA gives one meal to a shelter or rescue dog for every product sold. They’ve given away thousands of meals to local rescues who struggle to make ends meet. To learn more about DOG for DOG’s mission click here: http://www.dogfordog.com/our-mission/
5. Raw Food has been popular for some time, but now look for more options in terms of size, protein source and shape. Primal has come out with bite size nuggets of raw food, So instead of having to thaw out a patty over night (or more likely having forgotten to thaw it out and microwaving in the morning) these bite-sized nuggets can be served frozen. Another overseas trend in raw food is novel protein sources like kangaroo, wallaby and possum.
6. Special Diets. As people project their own beliefs and lifestyle choices on their dogs, diets come along with that. Some dogs have a vegetarian or even vegan diet. Other companies cater to the very granular needs and taste preferences of dogs (or more likely the dog owner) and customize menus to fit the dog’s dietary requirements. Things to cater around include breed, age, gender and activity level and lifestyle. These fortified meals are delivered to your front door. Service with a smile!
7. If it’s good for the baby it must be good for the dog. A growing trend in baby formula is goats milk as it more closely resembles human milk. Look for high-end pet stores to start carrying raw goats milk for dogs. I was in a pet store in Los Angeles last month that had an entire refrigerator stocked with raw goats milk (it’s legal to sell goats milk for dogs, but not raw milk for humans). The very knowledgeable employee spoke to me for a good 10 minutes on the many benefits of goats milk. Just Google “Goats milk for dogs”
8. Multi-Functional Treats. As pet supplements begin to decline in sales, people are looking for their dog treats to serve multiple purposes. Popular are:
· Functional treats, or those that include vitamins and supplements to aid with arthritis, itchy skin and digestion
· Training Treats are small little bite size treats that can be given to your dog on the fly as a reward for good behavior or performance of a desired action.
· Dental Chews & Treats- this category performs double duty by treating your dog while providing some dental benefit
· Treats made of Novel Proteins are sought after for dogs that are allergic to chicken. Look for duck and venison.
When it comes to pet food and treats rule of thumb is that if it’s new and popular for humans, the dogs are just a bark away.